The following is loosely based on the above prompt.
The last time Loki had visited this realm, he had come to rule it.
There had fire, war, and glorious chaos carried out in his name. The city had nearly been turned to rubble and ash, but their heroes had come to save the day. Earth’s mightiest warriors, aided by Asgard’s crown prince, had brought Loki to kneel.
It had been a humiliating experience, to put it lightly. But it had been necessary. To break his bonds to the Other, to the sweet whispers of the Tesseract, he had taken the appropriate steps. If Earth’s heroes had failed in defeating him… well, that would have been an acceptable outcome as well. Loki never played any game he knew he wasn’t going to win. That particular event had promised him two very different victories. He had claimed the one shrouded as a failure.
After that, he had not expected to visit Midgard again. Yet here he was, dressed in their fashion and walking their streets, completely unnoticed. It was pathetic, he thought, that the human race could so quickly forget the face that had almost ended them all. But they had their eyes on other enemies.
The Man of Iron had faced a foe with a name akin to a fruit. From what Loki had gathered, the Mandarin had brought a threat of terrorism to this country. The execution, however, had been poor. He could tell that the man on the screen was nothing more than an actor — a puppet, dancing to someone else’s strings. Delving further into the situation, he had discovered the existence of the extremis virus. Even now, he saw as kin to the Aether. Where the humans had gained power from their man-made serum, the Svartalfar had gained the same through an ancient darkness. He did his best to dwell on the implications of that.
But the Mandarin, like Loki, had been forgotten in the light of a new threat.
Captain America had faced the newest fear of the people. It would be an outright lie for Loki to deny the entertainment the situation had brought him. SHIELD dismantled, discovered to be a cover for an older, more wicked organization known as HYDRA.
The world was still reeling from these events, their flying fortresses in broken heaps upon their capital. Though his hands had itched to further complicate the threats both of his enemies had faced, the urge was not as strong as it had been in the past. He had been content to watch HYDRA’s reveal and learn about Stark’s series of unfortunate events. Now, he was simply content to drink.
He had been to see Jane Foster earlier that day. Rather, to observe her; she hadn’t known he was there, and neither had his oaf of brother. Thor, who had apparently turned down the kingship he had once coveted. All for that odd little bird-like woman, who was mad enough to love a God. Despite that fault, she was intelligent for a mortal, with sharp edges to her tongue. Loki liked her, though he would be loathe to admit it twice.
Still, their happiness left a bitterness in his heart. It was not unusual for Thor to have had women in the past, but he had never chosen a woman before. He had never turned his attention so starkly away from his brother due to some female, had never simply given up on Loki.
Yes, Loki was meant to be dead. All thought he was. He had died honorably on the sands of the dark world, sacrificing himself for his brother, redeeming himself… Perhaps they had held a feast in his name, perhaps Thor had grieved (again?), but his memory was already fading away. Thor’s attentions had turned to celebrating new life instead of life lost…
Loki drank in the dim light of this mortal tavern, trying not to dwell on Jane’s pregnancy.
For some hours he remained in this place, as he often did. Claiming a small table and seat in a corner, he would sit and listen to the mortal’s conversations as they came and went, occasionally glancing up to the television behind the bar to catch some interesting tidbit of news. If he had found a book worth, he would read it here. The owner left him alone so long as he ordered a drink every hour. Loki had been finishing his latest drink — the alcohol here was nothing like Asgardian mead, sadly — when a particularly unexpected patron had entered, already swaying on almost-drunk legs.
Anthony Stark fell into a seat at the bar, his jacket’s hood up and dark lenses shading his eyes, and quietly ordered a drink.
Loki only realized he had moved from his seat once his elbow touched the counter top of the bar. He leaned over towards Stark, a smirk already playing on his lips.
"I believe you owe me a drink, Stark." The words spilled from his tongue like a well-crafted lie.
Perhaps there was some merit to Midgardian alcohol.
Operating with half-a-second delay, Tony turned his attention to Loki, looking over the top of his sunglasses at him. At first, there was no recognition. A silent moment passed as an impared mind tried to piece together what it had heard.
Then, all the color drained from his face. Loki couldn’t help but give him a wicked grin.
"I bring no ill tidings." He eased himself onto a stool, eyes glancing about to see if any of the other Avengers would come running through the door. "I have no interest in your world, Stark."
The man struggled to respond, lips forming words he did not speak. Somewhat sobered by the appearance of an old enemy, he did manage to find his voice.
"Thor said you were dead."
"Perhaps I am." Loki hummed, fighting away any emotion that threatened to rise. "Have you ever had an encounter with a spirit?"
"The only spirits I enjoy are the ones coming out of a bottle." Tony shot back. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask the same of you."
Tony’s eyes were darting back and forth across the room. Counting civilians no doubt, potential casualties. Noting exits as his brain formulated plans of attack and defense.
"You are without your suit." Loki observed, tone cold. "No matter how fast you run, how quickly you attempt to alert your Avengers, I will be able to kill you before you accomplish your goal. At the moment, I have no reason to end your life. It would be in your best interest not to give a reason to." He motioned for the bartender to come closer. "In Asgard, offering to drink with someone is an act of comradery."
He could feel Stark’s eyes on him, hesitant and wary. But it seemed a moment of quiet contemplation was all he needed to make his decision.
"Fuck it. Barkeep, two of your most expensive whatever."
Whatever Stark had been drinking before he had gotten here had acted in Loki’s favor, it seemed. He couldn’t help the slight smile that came when he tapped his glass against Tony’s and partook in the Stark-bought drink.